The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday that planned dialogue sessions with people from "all walks of life" are not a “gimmick” and officials are committed to reaching out to the community amid the ongoing anti-government protests.
Lam also announced that members of the public would be free to sign up for the first dialogue session to be held next week.
Speaking to reporters before this week's Executive Council meeting, she said next week's session will be able to accommodate up to 200 people and will be open to the media. She added that there will be no specific topic, so participants can express their views freely.
Lam said a draw would be held to choose participants if too many people sign up for the session, adding that the exact arrangements will be announced at a later time.
“We’re going into a new style of governance that is more open and people-oriented. I think this sort of dialogue will be very helpful. And I can assure you this is not the sort of one-off, gimmick type of function. It’s intended to be organised on a sustainable and long-term basis,” she said.
Lam is due to meet hundreds of district councilors at the government's headquarters on Wednesday evening, although some, from both the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps, say they won't bother to attend.
The CE also appealed to people with different political views to remain "rational and peaceful", as she commented on the arguments and fights that broke out in various districts over the weekend.
She also dismissed accusations that police have been making arrests selectively.
“The government condemns all forms of violence. Our condemnation is not politically driven. In the same way, police arrests, and subsequent prosecutions by the Department of Justice, are in an impartial manner are not politically driven. We act in strict accordance with the law based on the facts,” she said.
The city’s leader also said she’s disappointed and disagrees with Moody's decision to downgrade Hong Kong's credit outlook, but admitted that months of social unrest in the city would inevitably adversely affect international perceptions about Hong Kong’s business environment.
Moody's downgrade on Monday followed a similar move by the Fitch agency earlier this month.
Lam also confirmed reports that the government had consulted some international public relations companies about launching a campaign to rebuild Hong Kong’s reputation.
But she said the experts told her it’s not the right time to do so, as the anti-government protests are still ongoing.